Big Thanks To Insurance Companies

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

September 25th, 2010 beckel

Today I have another beer from my Great Taste trip and another brew form the folks at Bear Republic. This time around it is an 8% ABV IPA brewed with 18% Rye Malt. If it tastes any where near as good as it smells I think I’m going to be one happy man.

Pours a rich ruby hue that is very opaque barely allowing you to see objects on the other side. Three fingers of tight off white head are produced and don’t move for many minutes eventually fading and leaving a very large amount of lacing for the style. Smells fantastically of citrus hops, orange, grapefruit, pear, melon, grapes, bright floral characters, rich grain including a bit of rye, solid bitterness and a good deal of carbonation. Flavor is full of bright citrus, notably orange, grapefruit and melon, deep delicious rye, serious bitterness and a bit of alcohol. The intense citrus & floral hops play wonderfully with the herbal and slightly spicy rye esters creating one fantastic brew. Mouthfeel is clean and body is medium. Overall a quite fantastic brew. Though I have only had the opportunity to sample two of Bear Republic’s beers and both have been IPAs I have been sincerely impressed by what they present and if their other beers are anywhere near as good I will definitely be back for much more. If you enjoy bitter IPAs this brew will do a good job of showing the enjoyable attributes Rye can add to the style. Any fan of bitter, floral and fruity IPAs will be all over this one. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

Avery Seventeen

September 23rd, 2010 beckel

Today I have what is sure to be an interesting beer from the fine folks of Avery Brewing. I picked up this bottle at The Four Firkins and though it was released a number of months ago it should still be on the shelves of a number of places. Avery makes ever so many delicious brews and their anniversary ales tend to be even more adventurous and this time it is no different with this Dry-Hopped Black Lager. While Cascadian Dark Ales are the new hip thing a highly hopped dark lager is certainly a unique approach.

Pours a very dark brown hue that appears black and is completely opaque. Three fingers of tight tan bubbles are formed and slowly open and fade after about four minutes leaving a decent amount of lacing and some residual carbonation on the surface of the brew. Aroma is quite nice with lovely smooth dark malts, gentle roast, lager yeast esters, alcohol and surprisingly little hops (I definitely noticed more hops when initially pouring the brew). Often lager yeast esters in lighter beers aren’t my favorite component, but the way they play with the dark malt in this brew creates a very well rounded and enjoyable aroma. Gentle citrus and floral notes are present in the flavor notably orange and grapefruit but are quickly dominated by roasted malt, dark malty sweetness and a slightly bitter finish with lingering citrus. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is lightly creamy. As the brew warms the flavor becomes mostly of semi sweet dark malt which brings out thoughts of chocolate and caramel even though the esters are very gentle bringing out an almost milky character. The hops continue to become more floral and earthy, particularly grassy which makes perfect sense considering it is brewed with  Hersbrucker & Tettnang hops. Making me wonder where the citrus esters I initially noticed came from. Additionally as this brew was bottled in March it is a good example of why not to allow hoppy brews to age making me wish I had consumed it earlier to get its intended hoppy glory. At 8.69% ABV this brew is no joke but the solid dark malt profile easily hides it. Certainly not the most impressive brew I have had from Avery but an interesting and flavorful beer that was definitely worth trying. If you enjoy Dark Lagers and are looking for one with plenty of flavor and alcohol this is is a good choice. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Avery Seventeen

Dogfish Head Red & White

September 21st, 2010 beckel

Now we have an even more exciting brew from Dogfish Head their Red & White. A Witbier brewed with coriander, orange peel and Pinot Noir juice with 11% aged in Pinot Noir barrels and the rest aged on oak barrel staves. At 10% ABV this one is sure to be a sipper.

Pours an attractive amber hue that is quite translucent with little specks of sediment floating about. About three fingers of crisp white head are produced and fades within a few minutes leaving a very small amount of lacing and about a millimeter of residual bubbles. Smells assertively of Pinot Noir grapes, cherry, oak, enjoyable sweetness, modest bitterness, a variety of other fruit & citrus esters, particularly orange, light alcohol and something that reminds me somewhat of bubblegum. Flavor is very interesting and complex. A great variety of fruit esters, particularly dark pitted fruits, fermented grapes and oranges, molasses, gentle alcohol and herbal esters. Body is surprisingly light and the mouthfeel is quite carbonated and slightly slick. As it is allowed to warm the coriander is easily identified on the nose and more clear in the flavor even though I barely noticed it when colder. Additionally more furit esters also come out including plum, pomegranate and even blueberry. Considering it’s massive flavor profile it is no real surprise that the alcohol is not overtly obvious but is none the less impressive. Over all a quite delicious and impressive brew that most will enjoy and would also work as an in between beer for wine connoisseurs. Absolutely worth sampling if you have the chance and a good example of what joys experimentation can leave us with. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Dogfish Head Red & White

Dogfish Head Festina Pêche

September 21st, 2010 beckel

Here I have a brew from a much adored brewery Dogfish Head out of Milton, Delaware. While unavailable in my market I snagged this bottle from Casanova Liquors in Hudson, Wisconsin. Festina Pêche is brewed in the Berliner Weiss Style (a somewhat tart approach on wheat ale) and has as the name implies peach concentrate added. At 4.5% this is sure to be an easy drinking, refreshing ale.

Pours a very pale yellow hue that is quite opaque. About half a finger of white head is created and very quickly dissipates. Scents of flat dry wheat, very gentle tartness, herbal yeast notes, and gentle savory peach. Tastes of cereal grains, enjoyable malty tartness on top of sweet & sour peach. Body is very light and the moutfeel is quite carbonated and relatively dry. An interesting an enjoyable example of  a rarely brewed style but probably not something I would consume too often as it is a bit simple and mostly fruity. If you enjoy peaches and aren’t afraid of some delicate tartness this beer will be right up your alley. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Dogfish Head Festina Pêche

Deschutes Black Butte XXI

September 18th, 2010 beckel

Today I have an exciting ale that I passed up buying a few times, but after reading a review from my friend Derek I couldn’t help but grab a bottle. Deschutes who brew out of Bend, Oregon craft some seriously solid ales, and if the aroma of this one is any indicator, I am pretty confident it will be awesome. This Imperial incarnation of their Black Butte porter was first brewed on their 20th anniversary and after it’s success they couldn’t avoid brewing it again.

Pours a very deep black hue that is completely opaque. Producing about two fingers of tight light chocolate colored bubbles that fade with in a minute or so leaving very little lacing and small amount of perpetual bubbles on the surface of the beer. Smells immensely of chocolate, coffee, very sweet malt, gentle roast and little bitterness. Flavor is of rich coffee, sweet chocolate, solid roasted malt esters, modest smokiness, malty sweetness, light alcohol, and a bit of bitterness in the finish. Body is medium, lightened a bit by a slightly creamy though viscus mouthfeel. Though this beer is a solid 11% ABV the complex flavors and massive malt esters easily disguise it, though it becomes more apparent as the brew gets closer to room temperature. This is one impressively smooth and delicious Imperial Porter. The brightness of the chocolate and coffee esters is simply fantastic and makes perfect sense when you note that this ale was brewed chocolate beans and coffee. Not to mention that 20% is aged in Bourbon barrels and blended back in. While I didn’t notice it at all when initially consuming this a bit cold, as the beer warms the alcohol esters become more reminiscent of the aforementioned Bourbon. Over all a seriously amazing take on the style and something I would happily drink any day. A fantastic brew and something any lover of chocolate and coffee will be all over. Can’t wait to get my hands on next years. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Deschutes Black Butte XXI

The Bruery Mischief

September 17th, 2010 beckel

The Bruery is a well known and highly rated Brewery out of Placentia, California that unfortunately does not distribute in Minnesota. Luckily I was able to pick up a few bottles in Hudson including this bottle of Mischief, a Belgian Style Golden Strong Ale. The label states that this ale is “Not quite evil, yet not to be trusted, this Golden Ale is effervescent, dry, hoppy and crisp-you’ll wan’t to keep an eye out.” I believe I sampled something from The Bruery when I was at Dark Lord Day but that day was far too long to properly recall. So heres to my first proper enjoyment of one of their beers!

Pours a bright completely translucent copper hue. Even when poured gently a massive bouquet of over four fingers of tight clean white bubbles are produced and fade over a few minutes leaving a solid fifth of an inch of carbonation indefinitely. Aroma is of lovely herbal and earthy yeast esters, clean lemon and orange hop notes, and soft malty sweetness. A variety of citrus flavors play with earthy and herbal yeast notes including gentle pepper which contrasts nicely with the fruity esters present particularly pear. As sweet grain compliments the surprisingly assertive hop bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is quite dry and the body is amazingly light. Even though this beer is a solid 8.5% ABV few will notice until after consuming an appropriate amount. Over all this is a solid interpretation of the style and is definitely worth trying. Particularly for those who enjoy the assertive, earthy and herbal yeast esters and don’t mind some decent bitterness and hop content to contrast with the enjoyable malty sweetness. A good substitution for a solid Saison when your looking for something with a bit higher of an ABV. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

The Bruery Mischief

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

September 8th, 2010 beckel

I know very little of Bear Republic Brewery other than the fact that they are from Cloverdale, CA and get some good reviews. Particularly on for the beer I have here their Racer 5 and India Pale Ale. Unfortunately Bear Republic does not distribute to Minnesota but I am excited to try this ale for the first time.

Pours a light very translucent copper hue with hints of orange. Head is about two fingers of tight white bubbles that open up slowly and eventually fade after about five minutes. Gentle lacing is left behind as well as a few millimeters of carbonation on the surface. Aroma is quite nice with a variety of citrus notes, particularly grapefruit and orange. With decent bitterness and modest sweetness playing along nicely and distracting from the modest alcohol on the nose. Flavor is quite a bit more bitter than the aroma with solid bitterness upfront followed by enjoyable notes of grapefruit, orange, gentle peach like fruit notes, followed by solid malty sweetness leaving a clean but bitter finish that will linger with you until you wash out your mouth. Alcohol is there but the 7% ABV is pretty well hidden by the solid contrast of sweet and bitter in the finish. Mouthfeel starts rather carbonated but smooths out around the mid-palate which is no surprise based on the serious release of carbonation upon opening this bottle. Body is impressively light making this brew very drinkable. Overall this is a solid IPA that I could easily and happily drink multiple six-packs of on a regular basis if it were available in my market. If you enjoy solid well rounded seriously drinkable IPA’s you will be all over this one. With its clean light body and its sold hop characters it is no surprise this is a well regarded brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Bear Republic Racer 5 India Pale Ale

Three Floyds Dreadnaught

September 7th, 2010 beckel

Here I have another fantastic brew from Three Floyds Brewing, Dreadnaught an Imperial IPA. As you may realize by now the brewers of Three Floyds love their hops; if you didn’t you will now. I first sampled Dreadnaught at their brewpub in Munster, Indiana during this years Dark Lord Day. Even with my severe palate fatigue from all of the other amazingly full flavored beers I had consumed that day Dreadnaught stood out as a fantastically hop forward example of the style.

Pours a modestly hazzy hue that is between orange and amber, closer to the prior. Two plus fingers of tight clean white bubbles are produced, most of which fade within a few minutes. Leaving a few millimeters of bubbles on the surface and a small amount of lacing. Aroma is simply brilliant. Massive orange, grapefruit & other citruses, peach, gentle pine, solid bitterness, and lovely malty sweetness all play in a lovely symphony of scents. Robust bitterness hits your tongue first, followed by grapefruit and orange hop esters that are further emphasized by smooth malt sweetness finishing with an even greater bitter bite and a variety of pine and earthy hop notes. As your palate gets accustomed to the serious bitterness present in this ale gentle flavors such as peach and mango become more apparent creating a wonderfully versatile beast. Similarly caramel notes in the malt are allowed to shine and initial bitterness is reduced as the beer warms and your palate realizes what it is in for. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is a bit syrupy but reasonably light as to not be cloying. The 9.5% ABV is well hidden by the bitterness but is definitely present particularly as it warms. I would encourage giving this one a little bit of time to warm up before serving but also note that the hop notes will become a bit more astringent (emphasizing the bitterness) and the alcohol more notable as it approaches room temperature. Over all any fan of the American style IPA’s will most likely have a field day with this brew. I really can not say enough about my love for this beer; if only they distributed to Minnesota. If you are lucky enough to get Three Floyds or live close enough to the border of a state that does like my self, give it a shot and ride your bike; and send me some while your at it.

Three Floyds Dreadnaugh Imperial IPA

Sierra Nevada Jack & Ken’s Ale

September 7th, 2010 beckel

Then it was time for number three from Sierra Nevada. I just grabbed this bottle from Alvey at The Four Firkins yesterday and after hearing his praise on top of my overall excitement for the beer I can’t wait to get into it. This time around it is a Barleywine and a tribute to Jack McAuliffe who is credited for creating the first US microbrewery; New Albion in 1977 which operated until 1982. For which he more recently received a Recognition award from the Brewers Association (the trade organization that represents American craft brewers) in 2007. If this brew manages to be anywhere near as good as their well known Big Foot Barleywine I will be a happy man.

Pours a very dark, almost pitch black hue that is completely opaque. Over four fingers of tight creamy off white, almost tan head are produced and don’t dissipate for quite some time. As it slowly dissipates a good deal of lacing stays around the entire glass leaving a few millimeters of perpetual carbonation on the surface of this ale. Aroma is massive and fantastic. Notes of chocolate, molassas, toffee and modest bitterness contrast with solid malty sweetness and roasted grain esters. Flavor consists of deliciously rich coffee, butterscotch, caramel and a fantastic play of bitter roasted malt notes and bitter and citrus hop esters. As it warms plum and other dark pitted fruits become more prevalent and bring in some expected flavors of the style. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is smooth and slightly creamy. At 10.2% ABV this is certainly a slow drinker but it is in no way overwhelming or hot. For those accustomed to Sierra Nevada’s classic Big Foot, this beer is quite a bit richer with a great deal of sweet malt esters such as caramel & butterscotch, much stronger coffee notes and a distinctive plum character as it warms. The hops also play quite differently with the citrus notes being more notable and the bitterness still similarly intense though contrasting differently with the variety of sweet malt esters present. If you enjoy well crafted Barleywines done in an American style and aren’t afraid of some contrasting bitterness this might just be right up your alley. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Sierra Nevada Jack & Ken's Ale

Sierra Nevada Charlie, Fred & Ken’s Bock

September 6th, 2010 beckel

Today I have the 2nd beer in Serria Nevada’s 30th Anniversary line of beers. This time around we have an Imperial Helles Bock. This lager was brewed in conjunction with and to honor two influential homebrewers and authors who have contributed a great deal to the community; Charlie Papazian and Fred Eckhardt. While not my favorite style, and definitely not a common one I think it is an appropriate approach to appreciate two very knowledgeable men who have motivated so many to to experience the joy of homebrewing.

Pours a very light translucent copper hue. A massive three plus finger head is easily created and consists of a bouquet of tight white bubbles that quickly dissapate leaving only a few bubbles around the rim after about three minutes. Smells somewhat sharply of lager yeast, gentle alcohol, soft lemon and orange . Tastes of lager yeast, smooth malty sweetness, hints of caramel, gentle citrus and very soft bitterness. Clean simple hop notes contrast well with the sweet malt base and allow the yeasts gentle herbal characters to shine through brilliantly. Other than gentle notes on the noes one will be hard pressed to realize this lager is 8.3% ABV until you’ve consumed most of the bottle. As it warms a few astringent flavors show their face but over all the flavors of this beer are relatively clean and enjoyable. While not a style of brew I regularly compliment this lager was well thought out and well crafted. Those who enjoy the rare Helles as large as this will be glad they opted to try it. As will those who enjoy clean, reasonably crisp, full flavored light lager. If you’re still able to find a bottle, give it a shot and ride your bike.

Sierra Nevada Charlie, Fred & Ken's Bock